War Elephant Taken From Behind: Port FC 3-2 Suphanburi FC (friendly)

Port took on the War Elephant of Suphanburi tonight in a friendly, and edged a highly entertaining game 3-2.

The visitors started with their A team, Port with their B, and Nicolas Velez, Port’s tormentor in chief when we lost at Suphan a few weeks back, put the away side a goal up within the first minute before Port’s players had even woken up, and added a second with a beautiful curling shot midway through the first half, before Jetjinn (51) pulled one back for the home side with a nice run & shot just before half time. To be honest Port deserved to be more than a goal down and were taken apart for most of the half, with only some typical last-ditch saving tackles from El Capitan Rochela (22), the only Port player to do the full 90 minutes, keeping the home side in the game.

In the second half the roles were reversed, with Suphan resting their A team and Port bringing on theirs, and it wasn’t long before Nitipong (34) levelled it for Port, before Suarez (5) volleyed in from close range to put Port ahead. Port had much the best of the second half and the 3-2 win was fully deserved.

Not really much to glean from tonight’s game other than the fact that Zico is still undecided over who is Port’s best left-back, with Panpanpong (19) and Yossawat (28) both getting game time; and the fact that Adisorn (13) is not in Zico’s plans, with Beavis Siwapong (97) starting the first half and Pummared (41) starting the second, with Ittipol (7) coming on as a late sub.

A very enjoyable game all in all, and good to take our place on the hallowed metal steps of Zone B, cold Leo and hot sausage in hand, for the first time in several weeks. Roll on 10 September!

 

No Bottle; Port Crack in Coke Cup Final

 

Port’s Academy suffered Coke Cup heartbreak after they slumped to a 2-0 loss against Muangthong in the Bangkok Regional Final. Port had already exceeded expectations by getting as far as they did, outperforming the youth sides of some of Bangkok’s best clubs, most notably Bangkok United – who were dispatched in the group stage – and Bangkok Glass. Ultimately their efforts came to nothing, though, as rivals Muangthong advanced to the last 8 of the Coke Cup, where they will face the champions of 7 other regions.

The game itself was a pretty one-sided affair, and it’s no surprise when you look at the teams. The Muangthong Academy provides a sizable proportion of Thailand’s under 19 squad, whereas Port don’t have a single representative, with Meechok having turned 20 this year. Nevertheless, Port’s young lions did themselves proud, surviving against the prohibitive favourites until well in to the second half.

Tall, powerful midfielder Polkrit (11) was arguably Port’s key man, shielding the defence well and making Muangthong’s forwards think twice about going in to challenges with him. Unfortunately his all-action performance took its’ toll, and Polkrit limped off with a foot injury at about the hour mark. It was shortly after the big man was replaced that Port finally succumbed. A pinpoint cross from the left was headed home by the only forward in the box, who did well to find space between the two centre backs and finish clinically.

It was at about this time that Port players started dropping like flies. A spate of substitutions were made as Port’s players were clearly not able to cope with the physical demands of playing every 2 or 3 days in a tournament format like this, with most games being played at four o’clock in the afternoon. The game slowed down as numerous Port players cramped up, and others suffered injuries. Muangthong held up much better, retaining their impetus and continuing to attack in search of a second goal that would surely kill the game off.

It wasn’t long before it came, and it was a goal that goalkeeper Jedsadakorn (23) will want to forget in a hurry. In fairness to Port’s stopper there was a clear hand-ball in the build-up, but the way he flung himself on to the floor in an attempt to gather what should have been a fairly routine ball through was definitely more Weera than Rattanai. It was a disappointing end to what had been a good tournament for the ‘keeper, who kept two clean-sheets in four games.

 

Partchya (27) scored one of the goals of the tournament in the 2-0 win over Honda

 

Nevertheless, Port can certainly return to their regular season with heads held high. Perhaps some of Port’s players may have even done enough to be considered for an under-19 national team call-up. From the bits and pieces I watched, if I were to pick the two with the best chances they would be Polkrit (11) in midfield and Partchya (27) on the left wing.

 

Port Face Muangthong in Coke Cup Bangkok Final

 

Port will face Muangthong in the Coke Cup Bangkok Regional Final at SCG Stadium. Unfortunately it has been confirmed today that fans will not be allowed to watch. Spoilsports!

 

 

 

Many have quite rightly been bemoaning the bizarre suspension of T1 action during the under-22 SEA Games, but Thailand’s academy teams have been making the most of the break in the 2017 Coke Cup. The 10-team regional tournament features the best academy teams from in and around Bangkok, with the participants this year being hosts SCG Muangthong, Air Force, Bangkok FC, Port FC, Bangkok Christian College, Bangkok United, Super Power, Thai Honda, Bangkok Glass and Army United.

Groups A and B featured three teams, from which only the winner would advance to the semi-finals, while Group C featured four teams, from which two teams would advance. Port were drawn in what looked like a tough group B with Bangkok United and Bangkok Christian College, who are renowned around the country for their youth setup. Port started off their tournament with a solid 2-0 win against Bangkok United, with our lanky left-winger Partchya (27), midfield hard-man Polkrit (11) and goalkeeper Jedsadakorn (23) all looking impressive.

 

 

 

A one-goal defeat to BCC followed, but Port were lucky enough to qualify by virtue of their +1 goal difference, with all three teams tied on three points. Port advanced to the semi-finals, where they were probably lucky to draw Group C runners-up Thai Honda. Port put in another impressive display, defeating Honda 2-0 largely thanks to left-winger Partchya (27), who showed that he has the end product to go with the tricks and flicks. His through-ball sent diminutive forward Chanayut (10) through to score the first, and he capped a match-winning performance by curling in a peach of a goal from outside the area which the goalkeeper could only marvel at.

The other semi-final saw Muangthong take on the surprise package of the tournament, Super Power, who have apparently invested more in their academy than they have in their first team. They cruised through group C garnering 6 points – 5 more than their first team has managed in T1 so far this season – but found hosts Muangthong one test too many, succumbing to a 3-1 defeat at SCG Stadium.

With three wins out of three and a goal difference of +7, Muangthong will be confident of winning on home soil, but Port’s youngsters could be inspired by the performance of their senior side, who defied the odds to shock their bitter rivals 3-2 at the SCG. The winners will advance to the final round of the Coke Cup, which will see the eight regional champions slog it out for national glory. Port will already be happy to have made it as far as they have, but with the prospect of a victory against rivals Muangthong and a place in the national tournament at steak, anything less than victory will be a bitter disappointment for Port’s Young Lions.

 

Contributors Wanted! The Couch Potato Edition

 

Since the last time we at The Sandpit wrote an article titled ‘Contributors Wanted!’ we have had 15 different people write previews, match reports and articles for The Sandpit. Players and managers – not just from Port but from all around the league – have taken part in our interviews. Port fans have sent us their photos, made videos for us and supported us in all sorts of different ways. Of course The Sandpit would not be able to keep up with the mental world of Port in the way that we have without all of your help, and it is always greatly appreciated.

That’s why, before asking more of you lot, we thought it would only be right to acknowledge those who have contributed to The Sandpit so far.

 

Writers

Andy Hailstone, Brian Blanchfield, Dave Barraclough, David Brassington, Dominick Cartwright, Gary Rutland, James Clarke, Joe Kheng, John Spittal, Kevin Machugh, Mike Strunk, Peter Hockley, Tim Russell, myself and Tommie Duncan.

 

Photographers and Videographers

Alisa Suwanrumpha, John Parbury, Kenny Goodbourn, Landry Dunand, Linny Russell, Tim Russell and all the people who take photos for various Port Facebook groups which we occasionally borrow!

 

Interviewees

David Rochela, Jason Withe, Josimar Rodrigues, Mano Polking, Matt Smith, Niran Hansson, Patrick Bentley and all of the fans from other teams who we have quoted in our previews.

 

Big thanks to all of those listed, and anyone else who I’ve forgotten. Of course, we still need all of your continued support to keep on producing the content we do, and we are always excited to welcome new contributors to the fold.

 

Couch Potatoes Wanted

What we’re after now is a particular kind of contributor: the sort that doesn’t really want to do any work, but would rather sit around with a chilled beverage in hand and have a chat about Port. We’re of course talking about our new series of Podcast Interviews called Zone F, which is basically me sitting around with you lot and asking some questions which we hope will help to create a Port-rait (geddit?) of the weird and wonderful Port supporting world. The first interview with Tim is here for you to listen to, and during the remainder of the break I hope to record a few more of these with anyone who fancies participating. Whether I’ve never met you before or see you at every match, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer you’re welcome to join me for food, booze and a good old chin wag. I’ll send you the questions in advance so you know what to expect, but it’s really just a chat about Port. What could be simpler?

You can get in touch with me through the Thai Port Importz Facebook page, or by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page.

 

,

What is Love? Baby Don’t Hurt Me: Jadue is Back

 

A quick recap, for those of you who either missed it or have undergone expensive therapy in order to forget it, of Port’s activities during the June transfer window. Port went into the window with seven foreigners on the books – Rochela, Suarez, Josi, Kalu, Genki, Asdrubal & Maranhao. Too many foreigners obviously, so Port addressed this by bringing in an eighth in the form of Chilean-Palestinian Matias Jadue. Then Maranhao was brought into the squad at the expense of Kalu, and played very well at Suphanburi. Then Maranhao suddenly signed for Sukhothai, and was replaced with Kalu, thus using up the club’s two permitted foreign transfers. Jadue disappeared again, and Asdrubal moved to Australia. Kalu came back into the team and scored a couple of goals, then broke his contract and returned to Serbia last week to be closer to his family, only to pitch up in New Zealand this morning. All clear so far?

Well if coach Zico’s Instagram feed is any indicator, and given that Instagram is Port’s preferred means of announcing transfers it probably is, Jadue – pronounced Had-way, hence the hilarious headline of this article – is back in training with Port, presumably as cover for Josimar in cup games as we don’t think he’ll be allowed to play in T1 given that Port have already used up their foreign transfers for the season.

We saw Jadue in a friendly a few weeks back and he didn’t look like he was any improvement on what we had already (ie Maranhao or Asdrubal). However with Port’s attack now looking emptier than Jadet’s salad drawer, Jadue at least gives Zico another option either in attack or just behind the strikers, and has to be a better substitute option than Tana or Wuttichai. Welcome back Matias!

 

 

,

Kalu Goes Kiwi

 

Last week we announced the news that Port striker Andrija Kaludjerovic had left the club in order to move back to Europe to be with his family, what with Mrs Kaludjerovic being pregnant and all. Obviously a week of family life was about as much as poor Kalu could handle, because it appears he’s just signed a 1-year deal with A-League club Wellington Phoenix of New Zealand – pretty much as far away from his family as he could possibly get without going into space.

This means Kalu has now played for an amazing EIGHT different clubs in the last 3 years. Given his decent goals-per-game ratio it’s no surprise there is always a demand for his services, but he’s clearly not one to stick around. He now joins fellow Port reject Asdrubal Padron in the A-League, where we suspect the cooler NZ climate will be more to his liking than the sweaty heat of Khlong Thoey.

 

Chocks Away! Port Take On Air Force in League Cup Last 16

 

The draw for the last 16 of the 2017 Toyota League Cup has just been made, with Port facing a trip to fellow Bangkok side Air Force Central FC. The game will take place on Wednesday 13 September at Thupatemi Stadium, time TBC. Some readers will remember the stadium from a sweltering 4pm kick-off against Grakcuh Tabfah FC in the same competition last season, or from Port’s memorable last-gasp 3-2 away win at Air Force that very same season.

Whilst it’s not an easy game by any means – Air Force are currently top of T2 – it’s still a match Port should be confident of winning and progressing to the quarters. And the good news is that, with Muangthong drawn against Bangkok Utd and Buriram facing Chonburi, at least two of the top T1 sides will be going out. Another league cup semi-final beckons?

The game will also see a reunion with former Port striker Kayne Vincent, the mention of whom generally causes people to suddenly look somewhat more fondly on Tana & Wuttichai. Kayne has banged in 6 goals in 23 games this season, making him joint-16th highest scorer in the division. The legend continues.

 

,

Port Linked with Vietnam International Striker

 

With the foreign player rule changing from 2018, and clubs having to recruit their +1 player from the AFF rather than the broader AFC, it’s inevitable that Thai clubs will start looking to countries like Vietnam for new talent.

And it seems like Port are getting in early, with the Vietnamese media and Thailand’s GangZaBaaBall linking the club with a move for talented 22-year old Vietnam national team striker Nguyen Cong Phuong. The Hoang Anh Gia Lai forward is also apparently interesting Buriram and Chonburi, and with his impressive national team scoring stats – 26 goals in 33 appearances at U23 level – he’s one of ASEAN’s hottest young properties. He may be Chanatip-sized but he’s a fast, skillful and hard-working player who clearly knows where the goal is, and thus a big upgrade on the likes of Wuttichai & Tana.

Zico of course knows the Vietnamese game – and Cong Phuong’s current club – well, having spent 4 very successful years at Hoang Anh Gia Lai as a player and another two as coach; and Vietnam football legend and current Ho Chi Minh City FC chairman Le Cong Vinh was recently spotted at Port’s game against Chiang Rai, suggesting the Port coach is strengthening his Vietnam ties in readiness for the rule change. His experience of handling Vietnamese players, and his familiarity with the language, might just put him in the lead in the race for the young player’s signature.

 

Rochela Scoops Second Player of the Month Award

 

El Capitan David Rochela becomes the second Port player to win The Sandpit’s Player of the Month award twice, joining Josimar Rodrigues who won in April and May. Rochela won the inaugural award in February, and has now secured the July award with an impressive 60% of the vote.

 

 

 

Port did not have the best month results-wise in July, but as usual the Spanish skipper did his utmost to keep Port in contention with his solid defensive performances. He also scored a rare goal from the spot against Chiang Rai, taking his penalty tally to 3 out of 3 for the season. Congratulations, David!

In second place was the star attacking performer Pakorn Prempak. Pakorn won the June award, and again underlined his stunning resurgence in the second half of the season by picking up 26% of the vote in July. Pakorn has always been known for his set-piece delivery and his crossing from the right, but in the last two months his decision making and tracking have improved markedly. Pakorn is getting closer and closer to being the full package.

 

 

In third place was Spaniard Sergio Suarez, who garnered 11% of the vote. Suarez shone against Chiang Rai and had two excellent performances in the cups against Ayutthaya, notching a few crucial goals in the process. If Suarez can continue to perform consistently for Port then we fully expect to see him winning one of these awards sooner or later!

 

 

Ittipol Poolsab came fourth in his inaugural appearance on our shortlist, with Andrija Kaludjerovic in last place with 0% of the vote. With the Serb’s departure being exclusively announced by The Sandpit today, I think it’s fair to say that Kalu won’t exactly be missed judging by the amount of fans who turned out for him in our poll!

An honourable mention must also go to Elias Dolah.  A few people quite rightly chastised me for not including the big Thai-Swede on the shortlist despite some excellent performances in July. Clearly I underestimated the ever-growing list of fans Dolah is accruing at Port, but you can be sure I won’t make that mistake again!

 

Serbie Rides Again: Kaludjerovic Leaves Port

 

Port FC officially announced today what we have known since last Friday – much-travelled Serbian no10 Andrija Kaludjerovic has left the club and returned home to his native Serbia. Speaking exclusively to The Sandpit, Kalu told us that he is going home to be with his family as his wife is pregnant, but that he was also dissatisfied with his situation at Port.

“I’m not playing here, and I’m tired of being substitute” he told us. “I didn’t get a chance at Port. I don’t know why…but anyway, now I’m looking forward to new opportunities.”

Kalu arrived at Port off the back of a stellar season in the Lithuanian league, scoring 20 times in 19 appearances for Zalgiris, and came highly recommended by his former Racing Santander teammate Rochela who praised his goal poaching abilities. But after visibly struggling with the pace and possibly the heat in his first couple of starts, despite scoring against Suphanburi he fell behind Josimar and even Tana in the pecking order under Jadet, and whilst Zico gave him a few starts – and was rewarded with a couple of goals – it’s clear that, with Port sticking to their tried & tested 4-5-1 formation, there is no place in the lineup for a six-yard box specialist. With his wife pregnant and the European season about to get underway, it obviously makes sense for him to return home.

Looking at the bigger picture, Kalu’s departure makes Port’s already calamitous June transfer window look even more shambolic. Port had two foreign transfers available, and used these to drop Kalu and replace him with Maranhao, and then reverse the decision. Now Kalu has gone, Port are left with just 4 foreign players, but even worse, only one striker worthy of the name in Josimar. Let’s hope Josi drives that motorbike of his veeeeery carefully for the rest of the season, because the thought of either Tana or Wuttichai playing as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 is not one I wish to dwell on.

And let’s also hope that, with Zico starting to stamp his authority on the club, such farcical transfer dealings are a thing of the past!